B.J. Thomas

Young and in Love

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Building upon the success of “Hooked on a Feeling,” B.J. Thomas headed to Memphis to record his fourth LP, Young and in Love. Having a hit helped focus Thomas’ record making, which heretofore had been a bit too scattershot, pushing him toward a produced paisley pop and subdued soul. Previously, he had range but not personality, but now he had one: a mainstream smoothie, riding the trends but not pushing them, singing with soul but only occasionally singing soul…and when he did, it was for a pop audience. This creation of a persona helped Thomas and his producers pick the right songs to fit his image, and they do rely heavily on hits for other artists: Thomas sings “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “The Worst That Could Happen,” “Hurting Each Other,” “Solitary Man,” “Never Had it So Good,” and even dips his toe into country with “Skip a Rope.” This leaves the rather excellent opener “Pass the Apple Eve,” “It’s Only Love,” and Spooner Oldham/Dan Penn’s “I Pray for Rain,” as the major songs debuting here, but it also means that, song for song, this is his strongest collection of material, and even if Thomas doesn’t interpret these songs but instead merely sings them, he sings them well, and with a state-of-the-art 1969 production that remains appealing decades later. It’s one of his best albums.

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